Initial Evidence of the Effects of Linguistic Framing on Transfer


This paper investigates the idea that it is not just the content of what students learn that influences transfer, but also how learning and transfer contexts are linguistically framed. In a one-on-one tutoring experiment we manipulated framing while controlling for several known transfer mechanisms. We contrasted an expansive framing in which students are positioned as contributing to larger conversations that extend across time, places, people, and topics, with its opposite. We then measured the degree to which high school biology students transferred knowledge from a learning session about the cardiovascular system to a transfer-of-learning session about the respiratory system. We found that students in the expansive condition were more likely to transfer: (a) facts, (b) a conceptual principle, and (c) a learning strategy from one system to another.

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